Union was founded when its leaders resolved that Schenectady and the surrounding region deserved a first-class college. Since then, the advantages of our location in the Capital Region have allowed us to offer unique opportunities to our students while enhancing our own reputation and influence. A priority for President Ainlay and the College in the months ahead is to continue to leverage that location, which is fast becoming a unique asset.
As revitalization in the city of Schenectady continues, we see new opportunities for both Union and the local community. The Schenectady Museum around the corner from campus will continue to enhance its profile and programs. Work has begun to renovate the ALCO plant site on the western side of campus. General Electric announced its decision to make Schenectady an “alternative energy headquarters,” giving the city a unique opportunity to build a regional identity around sustainability.
At the same time, Union’s location on the Mohawk River, near the junction of both the Mohawk and Hudson waterways, presents opportunities for leadership in education and research. Through his Mighty Waters Task Force, of which President Ainlay is a member, Congressman Paul Tonko hopes to gain more federal support for these waterways, which are among the most historic in the country. Several colleges and universities on the Hudson River have already established educational and research programs that focus on that waterway, and Union is a logical choice to do the same with the Mohawk.
Our proximity to the Adirondacks also presents unique occasions for interdisciplinary study and recreation. In 2011, the College took steps to strengthen its links to the Adirondacks by purchasing the former home of environmentalist Paul Schafer. The Kelly Adirondack Center provides space for programs, classes and retreats, as well as the largest library collection on the Adirondacks outside of the Adirondack Park. The College also entered into an agreement which gives us access to acreage on the northeastern side of Lake Piseco in the lower Adirondack Park, opening up possibilities for class trips and possible mini-terms at the site as well as research and scholarship in a wide range of fields. We will also focus on establishing links to the northern Adirondacks and its waterways and mountains.
Union’s proximity to Tech Valley and to the state capital provides also valuable educational and career opportunities to students. The College already has longstanding partnerships with Tech Valley institutions such as General Electric and IBM, and we are close to both the alternative energy production facilities in Schenectady as well as the Research and Development facilities in Niskayuna. Our developing relationship with a new player, Global Foundries, also offers promising internship options and other collaborative possibilities. And being just 20 minutes west of Albany and the state government offers a rich learning environment and the chance to study decision-making in the face of complex, real-world challenges.